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APC convention: Dissent over South West consensus officers

By Seye Olumide (Southwest Bureau Chief)
03 April 2022   |   4:24 am
Following the intrigues that led to the outcome of APC’s national convention of March 26 2022, what appears to be a successful convention on the surface has a lot of bottled up anger and animosity going on underneath,...

Senator Iyiola Omisore

Following the intrigues that led to the outcome of APC’s national convention of March 26 2022, what appears to be a successful convention on the surface has a lot of bottled up anger and animosity going on underneath, party sources have said.

The Guardian learnt that most of the contestants that actually came out to quit the race for the new National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who emerged on consensus, did so just out of respect for President Muhammadu Buhari.

A strong source disclosed yesterday that some of the aggrieved aspirants had gone to court to file suits that they stepped down under duress and not out of conviction.

One of their grouses was that the leadership of the party, especially the presidency and the governors paraded themselves as if other stakeholders in the party were fools.

Feelers indicate that the situation could have been better if the presidency and governors had come out before the congress to appeal to the aspirants about the consensus arrangement and not necessarily waiting till March 26 before compelling them to step down.

“Of course no one will want to say no to Mr President even if you have a contrary opinion,” the source said.
Taking a cursory look at some of the circumstances that led to the national convention from the Southwest zone and how governors from the region allegedly mismanaged the situation, not less than four aspirants obtained nomination forms to vie for the post of national secretary, five for the position of national vice chairman and five for national youth leader.

It was reported before the convention that the zone, despite all entreaties, may not agree on consensus to determine who gets what position in line with the party’s zoning arrangement.

A glance at the final list of contestants made available to The Guardian, for various positions zoned to the area before the exercise last Saturday showed the much orchestrated consensus arrangement was completely jettisoned.

Interested aspirants from various states obtained forms to vie for positions not actually zoned to their areas.
For the position of National Secretary, it was said that the five governors in agreement with the National Leader, Bola Tinubu, agreed to support former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore (Osun), while former Minister of Communication, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu and Prof Olaiya Abeedi Olaitan both from Oyo, insisted on contesting and were actually screened and cleared to participate in the poll before they were asked to step down at the venue of the convention.

Also listed by the party to run for the post of national secretary on the list is the Executive Director (Engineering & Technical Services) at Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, Engineer Ifeoluwa Oyedele from Ondo State.

Before Saturday, Oyelede’s aspiration was said to have the backings of President Buhari as against the consensus reached by the Southwest governors and Tinubu on Omisore.

The motive behind Oyedele’s endorsement was that that former PDP members, the persons of Adamu and Omisore cannot or should not have taken the two most critical positions in the party while original and foundation members are pushed behind.

This is one of the critical consequences of the outcome of the national convention that the party will have to address as preparations for primaries commence.

It is clear that the Southwest went to the convention as a divided house. The national secretary being the heart and engine room of the party is considered too significant to be conceded by interested parties. This notion created a kind of face off between powers-that-be in the presidency and Southwest leaders before the exercise.

The implications, The Guardian learnt was that delegates from Oyo and Ondo would have shared their votes among Omisore, Shittu and Olaiya but for last minutes persuasion of Shittu and Olaiya to step-down.

Oyo stakeholders particularly expressed grouse that Southwest leaders including Tinubu and the governors failed to carry the State chairman in Oyo along in the consensus arrangement, which made delegates from Oyo to feel that they were being treated like orphans in the scheme of things.

Before the exercise, not less that five aspirants jostled for the position of National Vice Chairman, which the Southwest leaders, especially Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, backed former state chairman of APC, Isaac Kekemeke for.

Suprisingly, Oyedele from Ondo State, who allegedly has the support of Mr President, went ahead to obtain form to contest for national secretary, which in actual fact was zoned to Oyo/Osun.

Other contestants for the national vice chairmanship were Tokunbo Afikuyomi (Lagos), Hameed Afeez Bolaji Repete (Oyo), Alhaji Fatai lbikunle (Oyo) and Prince Ishola Abiodun Olatunbosun.

Shittu and Olaiya insisted on contesting but for the wisdom deployed by former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, who appealed to both personalities to let go.

Both Shitu and Olaiya in particular completely disagreed with the governors’ position to support Omisore, whom some founding members refused to reckon with.

The zone also had issues on consensus over the position of National Youth Leader. Five people initially indicated interest. They are Dada Olusegun (Lagos), Kareemat Abiola (Ogun), Temidayo Isreal Abdullahi, Olufemi Smart Edwards and Busari Sadeeq.

In spite of the bickering, a former member of House of Representatives in Lagos, Lanre Odubote had predicted that the governors and Tinubu will have their way.

MEANWHILE, Tinubu stands a better chance to benefit from Omisore’s emergence as preparation for the primaries get under way. With the role played by Tinubu and the Southwest governors, the former Osun deputy governor may likely be the national leader’s eye in the NWC.

Omisore allegedly got the position as a reward for what he did to save Governor Gbeoyega Oyetola in the 2018 governorship election in Osun State. It is also assumed that Omisore, being a former Senator and grassroots politician, will understand the politics of NWC better than Oyedele or any other person at the national level.

It is also assumed that Governor Akeredolu of Ondo will prevail on Kekemeke to do the bidding of the national leader in the NWC as against Oyedele who perhaps would have tilted towards the presidency if he was picked as national secretary.

The fear over Shittu’s candidacy among the governors is that the former communication minister, apart from being a strict person, will not also be easily manipulated.

With the National Youth Leader, Dayo Israel’s emergence, the national leader also stands to gain a lot, suggesting that the three positions zoned to Southwest in the NWC have indirectly been taken by Tinubu loyalists.

However, the Southwest governors have been faulted by a number of party faithful for being unnecessarily arrogant by not engaging the aggrieved aspirants to step-down with promises of how to compensate them before the convention.

According to a source, the stakeholders wondered why the governors, particularly thought it wise to embarrass the likes of Shittu, who also qualifies as an elder statesman.